FIRESIDE CHAT // Lennox Hastie Coming To The Highlands For Wild Harvest Feast
Firedoor’s Executive Chef, Lennox Hastie Shares His Food Philosophy And How He's Preparing for Wild Harvest Feast
Wild Harvest Feast is one incredible event. A stunning marquee under the stars on a secret property in the Highlands. Wine, of course! And a five course super spesh meal created by Lennox Hastie, Executive Chef of two-hatted Firedoor.
There is something pretty amazing, creative and unique about creating dishes completely cooked by fire – oh, and outdoors! - and Lennox is pumped!
“When you’re outdoors, you have to get way more creative. I’ll be out of my comfort zone cooking in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere! And I can’t wait.”
And after chatting to Lennox about his unique fire cooking skills and his love of this beautiful and natural form of cooking, neither can we! Here’s what he had to say…
You’ve created a unique fusion of restaurant dining and cooking with fire at Firedoor which you're now bringing to the Highlands for Wild Harvest Feast. What do you love about cooking with fire?
It’s something I’ve been doing for over 15 years now. Working at Etxebarri in Spain opened my eyes to the possibilities cooking with fire can bring to a menu and ingredients.
Fire celebrates ingredients, it showcases them in the most beautiful and natural form. Fire brings a flavour profile that can’t be matched by any other form of cooking.
When the way you cook is very connected to the ingredient – which fire is – it requires all your instincts and awakens all your senses as you go through the process.
It’s quite complex, isn’t it? It’s not just a matter of chucking a piece of meat on a hot plate. Why is cooking with fire so complex and what does that complexity offer in the food and flavours you create?
Anyone can light a fire and throw something on it to cook. That’s what we’ve done as a society for a long time.
But I like to explore an alternative way of cooking with fire. It can be gentle and delicate. It doesn’t have to be intense heat.
I treat the type of wood we use as an ingredient too. Different types of wood combined with specific ingredients is what creates subtle flavours in the dish and the unique flavour profile I mentioned before.
And the way I interact with the fire matters too. I am choosing at which point I use a pan, the type of wood and ingredient, and whether I cook it directly or indirectly. A lot of it is done instinctually.
Cooking with fire is a beautiful thing that separates us from other species. We tell stories around fire, cook over it, gather around it! All the ingredients have their unique stories to tell.
I get to tell their stories through the medium of fire.
How has your experience at Etxebarri (named the 3rd best restaurant in the world this year - wow!) translated into what you’re doing at Firedoor and what you’re creating for Wild Harvest Feast?
Victor Arguinzoniz, the owner of Etxebarri, was dedicated to finding ingredients that hadn’t been grilled before, just to see what the result would be. You don’t think things are possible until you find a way!
We grilled caviar which took us a year to successfully manage. People think what a travesty! Grilling caviar! How can you take an expensive and luxurious ingredient traditionally served on ice and put it over fire? We got a lot of criticism before we produced an amazing result. We grilled it over applewood and seaweed, which took the flavour to a higher level. It changed the nature of the ingredient, which is quite amazing. The caviar ended up tasting more like black olives or hazelnut.
And that’s just one example of how we pushed the boundaries there. That’s experience and a philosophy I’ve brought back to Australia with me.
What Australian ingredients do you like to cook with?
I left Spain and came to Australia when we were in the middle of a big explosion of interest in food, and building on the diverse culture we have here. I was excited about that mix and the unique ingredients in Australia. I like cooking with pippies, Murray Cod and marron – they’re so unique and work really well on the grill. You know when you taste something that feels familiar yet it’s so different? It’s magical when you find those sorts of ingredients.
So what can diners at Wild Harvest Feast expect?
I like to challenge myself when I step outside of Firedoor and have the freedom to cook outdoors. I’ll have more space. I can create a lot more things. I’ll be doing things we don’t normally do in the restaurant because of size and space.
The great thing about the Southern Highlands is the number of amazing producers there and we already work with so many through Firedoor. So I’ll be drawing on those producers to supply great local produce for Wild Harvest Feast.
I will be cooking a whole animal that has been raised just down the road. Our wood supplier is also cutting us some very large fruitwood sections which we’ll be using to ‘plank fish’. And that’s just the start of it.
When you’re outdoors, you have to get way more creative. I’ll be out of my comfort zone cooking in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere! And I can’t wait.
Join Guest Chef Lennox Hastie of two-hatted Firedoor fame for this year’s five course Wild Harvest Feast on Saturday 5 October 2019 in the Southern Highlands. And with Hastie at the helm, expect more than a feast cooked with fire, this is a dinner where the guests get front seats to watch all the action.Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
This blog features friends and advertisers of The Fold Southern Highlands and is fully endorsed by The Fold Southern Highlands. We strongly believe in the businesses and all the information we share with you on The Fold and we're excited to share the amazing stories and adventures of our local businesses. We want to say a BIG thank you to you for supporting our sponsors who help make The Fold possible.